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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

When the pandemic turned Zoom into a much more prominent and frequent host of public-facing events and not just private video chats, it also confronted the company with knotty questions about moderating content similar to those faced by much larger companies, the company's policy chief told Axios.

Why it matters: The video conferencing firm doesn't expect the policy issues it's grappling with to evaporate once the pandemic ends and it's still set on long-term global expansion.

What's happening: Zoom is "investing a ton" in developing clearcut policies around content moderation and event hosting, Josh Kallmer, Zoom's head of public policy, said during an interview with Axios for C-SPAN's "The Communicators."

  • "We are committed to a free exchange of thoughts and ideas, but we do it according to a set of rules that reflect our values," Kallmer said when asked about an incident in September, when Zoom decided not to to host a San Francisco State University event featuring Palestinian activist Leila Khaled, who had taken part in two plane hijackings.
  • "Making the judgement about whether certain conduct meets or fails those standards can be a hard one."

The big picture: Zoom has seen explosive growth in usage during the pandemic, helping people work and learn online, but now it's in an unforgiving spotlight.

  • Zoom is also dealing with major competition from well-heeled competitors like Google Hangout and Microsoft Teams. Both companies behind those products have long had Washington presences. (Zoom only established its own earlier this year.)

What's next: Zoom plans to have a Brussels office up and running by early 2021, Kallmer said, and is also focused on continuing to build relationships on Capitol Hill.

  • Zoom looks to other tech companies' policy wins and losses as it navigates Washington as an upstart: "We look at what our peers are doing, and we learn lessons in both directions," said Kallmer. "We need to be honest that these are tough calls, and we're going to do our best, and always tell people how we're doing it."

Go deeper

Dec 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

Communication tech companies are booming

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Software firms that help other companies communicate are booming this year thanks to pandemic-driven remote-work.

Why it matters: Even when a vaccine is rolled out and lockdown provisions are lifted, most companies will likely maintain at least some work-from-home flexibility, which will bode well for software firms like Zoom, DocuSign, Twilio, Microsoft, Slack and others.

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.